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PRESS RELEASE 06/08/2005

Cuba is ready to defend the title at the Pan American Cup

Cuba is ready to defend its title at the Fourth Pan American Cup, a qualifier event for the 2006 World Grand Prix beginning this Friday in two sites in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. 

Two former MVP of this tournament, Yumilka Ruiz and Zoila Barros, lead the squad coached by Luis Felipe Calderon which also features Yaima Ortiz, the best spiker during the 2004 edition, along with setter Daimi Ramirez, middle blocker Nancy Carrillo and outside hitter Liana Mesa. 

Cuba won the first and third editions of the Pan American Cup while USA took the gold in the second. 

The Americans come to the 12-nation event with a team that includes opposite Nancy Metcalf, middle blocker Elisha Thomas, outside hitter Cynthia Barboza and veteran setter Lindsey Berg. 

The Dominican Republic Team, who recently won the bronze medal at the China International Tournament in Ningbo with victories over Japan and Bulgaria, is also a favourite to finish in the top-three. 

Yudelkis Bautista, the MVP during the tournament of the 2003 Pan American Games won by the Dominicans, is the star of the host team. The local side has libero Evelyn Carrera, who has made the All-Star in the three editions, and also outside hitter Cosiris Rodriguez, opposite Kenia Moreta and setter Juana Gonzalez. 

Puerto Rico and Canada are also strong contenders from the Norceca Confederation. The Puerto Ricans are led by Aury and Eva Cruz, Shanon Torregrosa, Sheila Ocasio and Lyann Puig. The Canadians have one talented group which includes Lisa Raymond, Tammy Mahon, Annie Levesque and rookie Joanna Niemczweska. 

The top three teams from the Norceca region advance to next year World Grand Prix along with the best ranked team from South America. 

Brazil, a major power in volleyball, is the heavy favourite to take the first place among the South Americans with Argentina and Venezuela also competing from that continent. The Brazilian attack consists mainly of Thaisa Menezes, Adenizia Silva, Fernanda Rodrigues and Natalia Manfrin. 

Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Barbados are not considered serious threats to take one of the qualifying positions of this event.

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